How to Treat and Cure Your Stiff Neck or Shoulder to Ease the Pain in 12 Easy Steps


To treat and cure a stiff or painful neck or shoulder, we follow the upward progression in body awareness versus gravity. I have written other articles in which I began at the feet—which is the base or foundation of the whole body—and then worked our way up to the ankles, knees, pelvis, waist, torso, etc. In this article, regarding the neck and shoulders, we begin by exploring the base, or the shoulder area, to create a strong foundation that supports the neck and head. As shown in the following table of contents we first discuss what causes neck and shoulder pain in the first place.






What Causes Neck or Shoulder Pain?

The main cause of neck or shoulder pain is poor posture. You can treat and cure a stiff neck, frozen shoulders and upper back ache, even headaches and migraine by being well aware of your posture. There is no such thing as a short neck. We all possess 7 cervical vertebrae. A short neck is merely curved too deeply. The neck supports the head, so it is obvious that if the head is carried too far in front of the body instead of directly above the spine, where it belongs, the muscles at the back of the neck are doing unnecessary overtime. Permanently tense and raised shoulders, poor sleeping habits, stress, or cold drafts also contribute to neck and shoulder pain. The overload in muscle tension just to hold your head up, but in the wrong way, can eventually escalate into chronic headaches and migraine. Oh dear, what to do, what to do?

First let us look at the shoulder area to create the strong base needed to help the neck support the head.

Shoulder Muscles

The main muscles that work the shoulders are the trapezius, the pectoralis (pecs) and the latissimus dorsi (lats) muscles; their job is to move the arm. Muscles work in a chain reaction fashion. When the arm rotates inward, it takes the shoulder with it. As this happens, the muscles at the front of the shoulder tighten while the muscles of the upper back become overstretched and weak. This results in:

  • kyphosis with forward head posture
  • tight muscles in the front of the shoulder
  • weak muscles in the upper back

Anyone who works for long hours at a desk is prone to this imbalance.

Correct Position of the Shoulder Joint

While the pecs and the lats are primarily movers of the arm, the rhomboids at the back provide stability to the shoulder joint. As the pecs and lats work to rotate the arm inward the rhomboids in the upper back become weak. This causes the shoulder joint to go too far forward, out of its neutral alignment, beyond its range of safety. This can be avoided by strengthening the upper back, using the rhomboids. Get off your chair for a minute and do the following shoulder alignment move to feel the rhomboid muscles putting your shoulders back into their correct place.

Shoulder Alignment

  • Stand up with the arms hanging loosely by your sides, like the sleeves of an empty coat.
  • Rotate the wrists outward as far as possible.
  • Release the rotation in the lower arm (turn your palms in towards your thighs from the elbow) BUT…
  • Keep the shoulders and upper arm in the same place as in 2. above.

You should feel a widening and flattening of the area immediately in front of your shoulder, allowing the shoulder joint to be placed at the side of your body rather than in front of it. That is where your shoulder likes to live most comfortably.






Relax the Shoulders

Raised shoulders cause the curve in the back of the neck to be too deep. As you can see from the red line of gravity, the head is carried too far in front of the body. This puts unnecessary strain on the muscles of the neck. A shortened neck often causes headaches and migraine. A double chin also often appears when the head is not carried above the spine. Firstly loosen the shoulders with the “Arm-swings and Circles” moves below, then proceed to the neck exercises in the following section.

Arm Swings

  • Stand in a stable lunge position, the left foot in front and the right foot behind with the front leg bent and both heels on the floor.
  • Swing the right arm up as far as you can until you feel the limit in the shoulder joint.
  • Swing the arm down and back, again as far as you can feel it stop in its joint.

Breathe in on the uplift and out on the down swing. Use momentum rather than force, allow the arm to drop as it goes down. Do about eight or more swings while increasing speed and momentum until you are sure that all the little crackly noises (stiffness) have gone from your shoulder joint.

Reverse the position of the feet and repeat with the left arm.

Half and Full Arm Circles

It should feel like you want to throw away your hand.

Full Arm Circles

Stand in the same position as in the previous sequence and now make continuous backward circles with your arm. Again, breathing in as you go up and breathing out as you go down. Begin slowly and increase the speed of the movement until your arm wants to circle quite fast to throw off all the tension; until you feel a tingling in your fingertips. If you look at your hand, it is quite red, full of blood. When you finish, hold the arm above the head and shake the hand to allow all the blood to flow back down again.

Change the position of your feet and repeat on the other side.

Note: Welcome any clicking or crunching noises in your shoulder as long as it doesn’t hurt. All the above moves are oiling your rusty joints. After a few repetitions those noises soon vanish.

Once the shoulders are nicely loose and relaxed, proceed with neck alignment.

Neck Alignment for Good Posture

See the Dowager's hump and double chin in the first picture?

Over Curvature of the Neck

Get the photo album and find a picture of yourself in profile. Sorry, but if you carry your head as shown in the first picture above, you are in real trouble. When the neck is over-curved, the head is not aligned above the spine but has to be carried in front of the body. That takes a lot of effort and pain. Muscles turn into spasm and cause neck and shoulder tension, headaches, migraine, even a Dowagers Hump. Help!

Do You have a Dowagers Hump?

Do You have a Dowagers Hump?
If your neck looks like the first picture above, then it looks like you have a Dowagers Hump. No worries, it can get better with the hints and exercises given in this article.

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